UK strikes 2023: Which workforces are striking or threatening to strike?

Rail strikes took place on Wednesday, October 4  (PA Wire)
Rail strikes took place on Wednesday, October 4 (PA Wire)

An eleventh-hour decision by the RMT union means that this week’s scheduled Tube strikes have been called off.

The cancellation followed Transport for London (TfL) agreeing to save around 200 jobs at its stations, signalling an end to the dispute about job cuts.

On Tuesday, RMT confirmed that thousands of staff would remain at work instead of walking out as planned today (Wednesday) and Friday.

Millions of Londoners who rely on the London Underground for commuting to work can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their journeys this week will be free of disruption.

The news came a little over a week after University and College Union (UCU) members, representing 42 universities, walked out on strike over pay deductions.

Industrial action has been going on since December 2022 (Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire)
Industrial action has been going on since December 2022 (Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire)

Here is a comprehensive look at all those who are striking or threatening to strike in the near future across different UK workforces, as well as a summary of the recent industrial action that has taken place.

Junior doctors’ and consultants’ strike

Junior doctors and consultants belonging to the British Medical Association (BMA) took co-ordinated strike together in October.

Both consultants and junior doctors walked out on October 2, 3, and 4.

Staff worked “Christmas day cover” for both spells of industrial action, meaning emergency care continued to be provided.

It comes after junior doctors voted in favour of continuing strike action, with the BMA’s mandate on industrial action renewed for another six months.

Rishi Sunak announced in July that pay negotiations had ended and that consultants would receive a six per cent rise. However, the BMA says consultants’ take-home pay has fallen by more than a third in 14 years.

Dr Vishal Sharma, the BMA consultants committee chairman, said: “We would much rather be inside the hospital seeing our patients. But we cannot sit by and watch passively as we are persistently devalued, undermined, and forced to watch colleagues leave — much to the detriment of the NHS and patients.”

RMT members demonstrate outside No 10 Downing Street in August (Lucy North / PA)
RMT members demonstrate outside No 10 Downing Street in August (Lucy North / PA)

The future of rail strikes

Members of the Aslef union — representing rail workers across the country — went on strike on September 30 as well as October 4.

While the London Underground lines were unaffected, train lines coming in and out of London experienced considerable delays.

Airport workers’ strike

Unite members working for ground-handling company Red Handling walked out for four days from Friday, August 18. They went on strike for a further four days, from Friday, August 25, which affected the August bank holiday weekend.

Further strikes are expected to take place at the end of October, coinciding with the half-term holidays. Unite’s baggage workers are also set to walk out again between October 20 and 30.

Red Handling is responsible for ground handling for Norse Atlantic, Norwegian, Delta, TAP Air Portugal, and Saudia.

At the time, a Gatwick spokesperson said: “We are aware of the recent ballot results and encourage staff at Wilson James, Red Handling, and their union to reach a resolution. We will support Wilson James, who hold the contract for providing assistance to passengers, in their contingency planning.”

According to Unite, neither of the relevant businesses made offers that satisfied workers’ expectations.

Airport workers in other countries such as Spain are also striking this month, meaning travellers expecting an autumn getaway may face some challenges at various airports.

Teachers and university staff

A number of university staff represented by the UCU went on strike last month over pay concerns.

Other teachers’ unions, such as ASCL and NEU, called off their ballots for industrial action after accepting a pay offer.

In a joint statement announcing the pay offer in mid-July, the prime minister, education secretary, and teaching unions called it “properly funded” and said all schools would receive additional funding “above what was proposed in March”. The 6.5 per cent rise was recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body.

NASUWT, another teachers’ union, told members to begin working to rule — limiting their working time by following their exact working hours — from September 18.

While the dispute has been resolved in Scotland, teachers in Northern Ireland have also been taking action short of a strike since October 2022, as well as NAHT members in Wales since February.